Zucchini Tofu Napoleon — Joint Post

Zucchini Tofu Napoleon

The blogging world has opened up so many new culinary opportunities.

The beauty of blogging is that I get to virtually visit the kitchens of people all over the world and then adapt the recipes to suite my family’s taste. Hence, I recently posted a recipe which I called Lentils Napoleon. Here is the link: https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/lentils-napoleon/

I adapted the recipe based on The Eggplant Napoleon recipe posted by Dolly, who is behind the apron of koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com.

Here is the link to her wonderful blog: https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/

Here is the link for her post on Eggplant Napoleon:

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/eggplant-napoleon/

However, I must apologize for an inadvertent culinary faux pas: Lentils Napoleon is really a misnomer.

Through this joint post, I have learned that my lentil dish should have been named Lentils with Cumin and Sumac.

And, how did I learn this?

Because Dolly, who is a dedicated teacher, kindly reminded me that “Napoleon” really refers to anything baked in thin layers interspersed with something creamy.

My lentil dish was certainly not that. I simply liked the spices she used and thought I would use lentils instead.

BUT, my malapropism has led to this current hands-on learning experience.  Dolly is a genuine educator: she suggested that we do a joint post on a “real” Lentils Napoleon.

Our goal is to post as simultaneously as possible both of our recipes, using the culinary concept of layering vegetables interspersed with something creamy, the real culinary definition of Napoleon-style dishes.

Here is the link to Dolly’s post on Beets and Beans Napoleon. I am sorry but I don’t know how to make a short link:

Beets and Beans Napoleon – koolkosherkitchen

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/beets-and-beans-napoleon/

For me, this has been a real opportunity to see how unique we all are.  We infuse our own special spark into everything we do.

Our own special spark

Raizel’s painting from camp.

Based on a more careful reading of Dolly’s post, and some online research, I discovered that Wolfgang Puck, the original creator of Beets Napoleon, used goat cheese between layers of beets.

For this post, I decided to use thinly sliced zucchini between a tofu-lentil creamy layer.  I thought that tofu, with a dash of vinegar, would recreate a more goat cheese-like texture. In addition, I had run out of lentils, and I didn’t feel like shopping for more.

Raizel was my hands-on helper in this activity. She came home from camp this week, and was very excited when I suggested we make this dish for our joint post.

Raizel helped with the actual cooking, and she also took some of the photos. Raizel has a unique gift for coming up with recipes that are often quite good. But, photography is one of her passions; and of course, she loved using my phone as a camera!

Lentil-Tofu Napoleon

Ingredients:

For Tofu-Lentil Layer:

1 lbs. firm tofu

Spice mix:

1 tablespoon garlic salt

1-2 teaspoons garlic power

1 teaspoon pepper, and cumin

½ teaspoon coriander, and sumac

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Optional: fresh cilantro

Optional: Leftover Napoleon Lentils

Vinegar to taste, in order to get a slightly tangy taste for the tofu. I used red wine vinegar, but I think that apple cider vinegar would be good too.

Vegetable Layer:

3 Zucchini, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

Lentil Tofu Creamy layer: Slice the tofu about 5 mm thick and sprinkle spices on top. Spray oil grill, and cook the tofu until done.

I took the leftover lentils from when I first posted the recipe and pureed it together with the tofu and added the vinegar.

The vinegar gives it a nice tang and a creamy texture.

Then I adjusted the seasoning.

Raizel said, “It looks terrible but it tastes great.”

Vegetable layer: Slice the zucchini is thin slices. I have a wonderful compact grater/slicer that I used. It is very sharp and is able to slice 2 different thickness. It also has 3 blades for various grating. Raizel actually sliced the zucchini and she did it very well!

Sauté zucchini in pan, sprayed with olive oil. Add crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Layer zucchini in a small, lightly oiled dish. Next add layer of tofu-lentils, and continuing layering until near the top. Top layer should be of zucchini.

Bake covered for 20 minutes or until cooked.

I made this in individual servings. I think that it could be made in a larger pan, and then sliced when cooked. However, it might be difficult to  maintain the desired layered look. Wolfgang Puck, I believe, used a cookie cutter to get a uniform and attractive serving portion.

Serve with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Here are the pictures. Since I made it with Raizel and she likes photography, we took quite a few.

 

Tofu marinating with the spices.

Raizel slicing the zucchini. Go Raizel!

Sauteing the zucchini.

Raizel placing the tofu on the grill.

Raizel cooked the tofu by herself!

Pureeing the tofu

Ready to cook!

Voila! The final product!

 

The verdict:  The recipe objectively came out great. However, subjectively, is was not well received.

After it was so beautifully prepared, my husband reminded me that he does not like anything creamy. Raizel, who was very excited and very enthusiastic during the whole process, also didn’t eat it. Despite her protestations, Raizel does not like anything creamy either.

In the end, I was the only one who ate it. I thought it tasted great.

I also ate the leftover tofu “cream” during the week, as a spread on rice cakes.

Overall, I would say that this recipe is delicious, but for someone else’s family.

What did I learn?

I have my own song in the kitchen. 

Everyone has their own song.

For my family, simple is best.

Finally, I had lots of fun discussing and planning this with Dolly. We had a bonding experience!Thank you Dolly!

 

 

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Grilled Zucchini 

I am still adjusting to my new kitchen and appliances. I find that my new microwave and oven cook differently. 

However, I am happy to say that my new stove has a wonderful feature that I am really enjoying.

It has a cast iron grill as a center burner. The flame is longer than a regular burner. Now, I can grill or cook over a larger surface, and use less oil. It’s like having a built in frying pan, only better.

So, tonight I made grilled zucchini. It was fast, easy, low fat and delicious!

Ingredients 

Zucchinis, sliced diagonally 

Spray oil.

Instructions 

Spray oil grill. Cook zucchini until done as desired.

Here are the pictures:

lay zucchini slices on grill, without crowding

turn over to cook on other side when done.

final product– grilled & yummy!

Everyone loved them! My husband said, “these are great!”

Yaffa, who loves zucchini, specifically asked to take them for lunch the next day. She said, “they’re my favorite!”

Fast, easy and very little to clean. Less storage space required too!

Zucchini Mushroom Soup 

Like many Jewish women, I spend my whole week planning for Shabbat. And, I spend my whole year planning for Passover, which is 3 weeks away. 

Cooking and Shabbat are closely connected in our house. 

It is to the point that if I am cooking, the first thing Yaffa says is “it is Shabbat yet?  Mommy is cooking for Shabbat!”

  

It’s very cute, because there is also a children’s story,  Is It Shabbas Yet?  that I used to read to the girls when they were little.  Yaffa has almost memorized it. An incredible feat when you consider that she is significantly hearing impaired in addition to her cognitive challenges. Cute gets you very far! 

Raizel also found a number of YouTube videos about the book, that Yaffa loves to watch. 

If anyone is interested, this is one of the multiple versions available online:

The constant repetition has enabled Yaffa to learn the story. 

Friday morning is usually my marathon cooking time.  I prepare all the food on Thursday. Then, I get up at dawn and do the cooking before going to work.

One of my new favorite things to make Zucchini Mushroom Soup.  This is an extremely flexible recipe. Sometimes I make it with the mushrooms, and sometimes I make it just with zucchini. I usually add an onion, but, the amounts vary.

Ingredients 

1 onion, quartered

1-2 zucchinis, cut in large chunks

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

Water to cover

Salt and if desired pepper to taste

Instructions:

Add all the ingredients to the crockpot.

The secret to making the soup this way is to use a small crockpot, and slightly overfill it. I tend to add more water than necessary, (about half way up the crockpot) as I leave it in the crockpot for more than 8 hours. With more liquid, it is less likely to over cook.

Then, once I come home, I remove some of the liquid, and using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables, and adjust the seasoning.  The soup should be slightly thick.

It can also be made on the stove or in a pressure cooker, 2 minutes to pressure.

Here are the pictures:

Here, all the vegetables are in the pot. I also cut them into large pieces, to prevent over cooking.

Here is what it looks like once it is cooked. Before I puree it, I remove most of the liquid, so that it will not be too thin.

Voila! Here is the final product:

Yaffa loves zucchini, and this is one of her favorites!

 

Enjoy!

If anyone is interested in the book that Yaffa and Raizel like, here is the link for that too:

http://www.amazon.com/Is-Shabbos-Yet-Ellen-Emerman/dp/1929628021